In Which I Watch Veggie Tales, Where is God When I’m Scared?/Daniel in the Lion’s Den

There will be a Buttercream Gang Post…. sometime. I’m going on vacation tomorrow, and I really wanted to have it up by now, but wordpress only allows me to save one draft at once. So, I’ll try to get it up today or tomorrow. If it’s not up tomorrow, it will get done on Sunday when I’m cooling my heals in the airport for 5 hours between flights.

 

I wanted to do both these parts together but then the meds kicked in and knocked me flat. So, here we go

Now, onto the next episode, Daniel and the Lion’s Den.

This is the only episode I can remember someone criticizing in real life. I believe it was pastor Cory Jackson, actually. I remember him telling us his kids weren’t allowed to watch VeggieTales, because “When your carrots start talking to you” and then he laughed. Looking back, however, he also said in another sermon that his kids only read the bible and Ellen White. At the time I thought that was a really awesome thing to do. Now, I pity those kids. For the record, my parents weren’t even half that conservative. They policed my movie choices far more than they ever did my reading. I think they thought things were less scary when I read them, for some reason. As an adult I do not always understand my parents’ logic.

I’ll get to the part his pastor criticized later, because it would spoil the story otherwise. So I’ll just jump right in. For the record, even as a teenager, I didn’t think this pastor’s criticism was valid.

Jumping in for real, now.

Actually, On second though, I don’t think this story is at all different from the story of Junior and Frankencelery. See, I believe Daniel was scared. Who wouldn’t be? He was about to be murdered for his religious beliefs. But see, the definition of bravery isn’t the lack of fear, but rather, doing what you must anyway in spite of that fear. Daniel did what he believed was right in spite of the fear that he would die, and so, he is recorded in the bible as being brave, because Daniel was brave in spite of his fears.

Ok, now I promise we are really going to get started on the story.

The credits tell us that “Archibald Asparagus” stars as “King Derius.” Is this the same guy as Junior’s father, or another asparagus? I don’t honestly know.

Larry the Cucumber will be playing Daniel.

We open with a view of a large body of water, (no, I don’t know which) as a narrator tells us that when Daniel was young, he was taken from his homeland and made to live in Babylon, where he went to school in the place of a Babylonian King.

I like this. This is an example of giving children details without giving them too much. In the Bible, Daniel was kidnapped from his family and homeland. This episode of Veggie tales glosses over the icky details, and doesn’t show the actual kidnapping, and yet, it does discuss that hey, Daniel was a kidnap victim. Yet it is done in such a way that some kids will know it, yet it will fly over the heads of most children. 

Narrator: Daniel missed his home very much, and every day he prayed that God would take care of his family and friends, and look after him, too.

The narrator won’t mention this, of course, but the biblical account says that Daniel and his friends were made Eunuchs. I’m not entirely sure the details of what that means, but I know it involves making sure they will never have sex. Or the desire for sex, or something. I personally would find it very hard to pray to such a god who would allow that to happen, and have no idea how the real Daniel, if there was one, managed.

Narrator: God heard his prayers, and helped Daniel become as wise as he grew older, till the whole palace knew of his wisdom

I kinda wish the narrator hadn’t skipped out on why Daniel became wise, but I understand they only want to tell one story. Though I guess the story of Daniel becoming wise because he ate his fruit and vegetables (yes, that is biblical, go read the first 2 or 3 chapters of the book of Daniel) wouldn’t be popular in a story where the main characters are fruits and vegetables. I kind of still wish an episode had been done on it at some point because it really is a good story.

In any case, the narrator continues.

Narrator: Then one night, the king of Babylon had a dream

The details of this dream, for those not familiar with the story, can be found in Daniel 2. Here is a link to the NIV version:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=daniel+2&version=NIV

In Seventh Day Adventist theology, this dream is highly significant. Therefore, every child is required to study it if they are attending Seventh Day Adventist schools. The dream comes up time and time again, with more details being given as the child ages. In fact, I was part of CAMPUS ministries, and was expected to give bible studies on the subject, so I can tell you approximately when certain empires rose and fell, which metals they represented, etc. I’m told I was very good at giving these bible studies, but that is James’ opinion, not mine. (James was the man who taught me how to give Bible studies.) In any case, the contents of the dream won’t be relevant to the plot, so I won’t get into it here.

Leaks?

This is the cue to segway into a song. Unlike the Donut Repair Club, these songs further the plot, or at the very least happen in between plot, so I can tolerate them. This particular song was on my veggietunes cassette tape, so it brings back memories. Here is the youtube link.

lyrics:

   

King Darius: I am King Darius
I’ve had a dream
And now I’m feeling rather frightened
And I wish someone would tell me what it means.

Wiseman #1: We are your wisemen
Yes, that is true
And though we’re using all our wisdom
We’re afraid we can’t explain your dream to you.

King Darius: What!?

Wiseman #2: But there is one who is wiser still
And Daniel is his name
So before you take another sleeping pill
Perhaps he can explain.

Daniel: My name is Daniel
That much is true
But it is God who gives me wisdom
And through me He will explain your dreams to you.

 

Maid: His name is Daniel
That’s what he said
But when he talks about this God of his
I think he’s kind of loony in the head. (I do.)

 

I’m with the maid on this one, but this is the wrong story for us atheists. Except maybe the Lion’s Den.

Narrator: Well, Daniel was able to explain the king’s dream. And this
made the king very happy.

(singing again)
King Darius: Daniel, you have enlightened me
Your job I will expand
From now on I want you to sit right beside me
As the second in command!

 

Basically, in the bible, the king threatened to kill all the wise men in the land because no one could explain the dream (again, I understand the writers not wanting to show this. It is not a particularly relevant detail). Well, the king’s men came to kill Daniel. Daniel told them to give him 3 days and he would explain the dream. So Daniel and his friends fasted and prayed, and God showed him the dream.

You see, the king wasn’t stupid. He knew that if he told the wise men his dream, the wise men would make up an interpretation. So the king told them to not only tell him the interpretation, he wanted them to explain the dream. Very smart of the king, in my opinion.

God gave Daniel not just the interpretation, but the dream itself. I don’t think the song explains that, and I wish something in the movie did, because I think that detail is important. The giving of the dream itself I mean, not that all the wise men were to be killed. That I think was reasonably left out.

It’s very interesting to see the visuals to this song. That’s not something I’m used to, because for most of my child, this was on a cassette tape.

Hey kids, for those of you who don’t know, this is a cassette tape:

 

Hey, random question: Does anyone know what the wise men are supposed to be? Are they leaks? I’m not quite up to snuff on all my veggies, I’m afraid. I tend to like the more common ones like peas, carrots, and green beans. Most other veggies I’m not quite sure what they’re supposed to be.

The narrator explains that the wise men were jealous, because each of them wanted to be second in command. There is a sound that always sounded to me like a baby crying, and even as an adult I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be.

Anyway, the narrator explains that the wise men started immediately thinking of ways to get rid of Daniel.

There is apparently debate, in the comments, over whether this song came out in 1991, 1993, or 1996. Those years I would’ve been 2, 4, and 7, respectively. I can guarantee that I did not see this actual movie until I was 8, though I did receive the Veggietunes tape in 1995. I know for a certain fact the year was 1995. This movie, therefore, predates 1996, at the very least.

So, 1991 or 1993, then.

This episode really is a musical, in that the songs further the plot. They are good songs, but not just in themselves like in the Donut Repair Club, they also further the plot and don’t require the adult to turn their brain to mush listening to them. They also do not require copious amounts of alcohol, though I do enjoy drinking while watching, I don’t feel like it’s necessary to stomach the content.

Here are the lyrics:

Wisemen:
Oh no! What we gonna do?
The king likes Daniel
More than me and you
Oh, no! What we gonna do?
We gotta get him out of here.
(Repeat)

Wiseman#1:
We could throw him in the dungeon
We could let him rot in jail
We could drag him to the ocean
Have him eaten by a whale

 

Me: Jonah reference?

Wiseman#3:
We could throw him in the Tigris
Let him float a while
Then we’ll all sit back and watch him
Meet a hungry crocodile

We could put him on a camel’s back
And send him of to Ur
With a cowboy hat without a brim
A boot without a spur

We could give him jelly doughnuts
Take them all away
Or we could fill his ears with cheese balls
And his nostrils with sorbet

We could use him as a footstool
Or a table to play Scrabble on
Then tie him up and beat him up
And throw him out of Babylon

 

Wiseman#2
Or… (whispers)
Wiseman#1:
I like it!

 

Wiseman#3:
It’s sneaky!

 

Wiseman#1:
And it just…
Wiseman #3:
Might…
Wiseman#2:
Work!
Wisemen:

We could use him as a footstool
Or a table to play Scrabble on
Then tie him up and beat him up
And throw him out of Babylon!

 

 

As a child, I thought some of their ideas of what to do with Daniel were…. kinda funny… but not really, and did not ultimately solve the problem. So what if they used him as a table to play scrabble on? I also misheard it as “fill his mouth with cheeseballs” and at the time, I thought that sounded great to me, I loved those cheesy puff ball things you get at the store, what do you call them.

I also heard “Fill his mouth with sardines” instead of “sorbet.” Frankly I think the site I got the lyrics from has it wrong here, because one of them sounds infinitely more disgusting than the other.

Someone who commented on YouTube said that they are scallions.

Someone also said this particular scene is creepy. I would argue that that is kind of the point. It’s creepy but, at least in my opinion, not too scary for the target audience. They are talking not specifically about killing Daniel, but throwing him out of Babylon.

Well, ok? I guess? I mean, most children, especially raised Christian, are going to know that being thrown in the lion’s den was a death sentence, but I can see the writers wanting to skirt the issue for now. Also, the target audience is Christian children, and Christian children would know that by  “getting rid of,” the wise men really meant “Kill Daniel.” And…. it never bothered us.

In any case, in the morning, the wise men present the king with an idea.

As they present the idea to the king, this segways into another song:

 

Well, it should’ve been on youtube but I’m having a really hard time finding it. Either it’s just not there, or I’m just really bad at technology. This song was on my VeggieTunes tape, so it should be on youtube. Anyway, I can’t find it, so here are the lyrics.

 

Wiseman #1: We’ve got some news, good King Darius
We fear your position is precarious
There are some people here in Babylon who won’t give you your due
They’d rather bow to other men
King Darius: Can this be so?

Wiseman #2: ‘Tis true!

King Darius: Oh, dear.

Wiseman #1: We’ve brought a solution of our own design
If you’ll just sight this paper on the dotted line.

 

It’s an edict stating most concisely what we’re all to do
We must bow our heads or bend our knees before no one but you.

King Darius: I see. Just one more time, now, let’s see if I’ve got this
straight.
A law to prove once and for all that I am great.
If I’m the king no one must doubt my full supremacy
So, from this day forth my citizens will pray to only me.

Yes! But what if they don’t?

Wiseman #1: If they don’t obey, any citizen
Will be thrown into the lion’s den.

 

King Darius: Oh! Yes. Well, I guess that would do it! Alright, then.
Good work, men. Tah tah!

Narrator: (Talking) So the law was passed, the deed was done
Daniel’s troubles had just begun

 

It says the narrator is talking at the end, but she’s really kind of singing. And I say she because it sounds like a female voice.

The Narrator states, for real talking this time, that everyone in Babylon heard about the new law, including Daniel.

I always wondered why, if Daniel didn’t agree with the law, he didn’t go into his closet instead of praying by the window. As an adult I understand a little better. Daniel was protesting the law. He wasn’t thinking of just himself, he was thinking of all the others that would be affected by it. Also, if it was his custom to pray by the window, and if he changed his custom, people might assume he had caved into the king’s law. Daniel was not merely challenging the king’s law, he was providing hope to others in the land by stating that he would not obey a law that he believed was wrong, a law that infringed on his right to worship as he pleased. (Not that I’m sure Babylon had those laws, but you know what I mean.)

Or at least, that was the explanation we were given in Bible class.

Narrator: He also thanked God for the courage to do what was right, even though he knew it could get him in trouble.

(Responding to narrator)

This is a very simple, yet adequate way to phrase it. Doing the right thing may not always be easy, and in my opinion, not always preferable. But if one is to be a Christian, one must always obey the right, and so this is a good lesson for them to learn. It’s probably a good lesson to learn in general.

I will say, though, that this is why we need separation of church and state. Because otherwise, laws like this could get passed. Someone who chooses to worship a different God besides the one the ruler of the land thinks they should worship could be put to death, and that would be horrifying. So this is a good reason why America has (theoretically at least) freedom of religion. So that laws like this hopefully never crop up.

I was raised with the belief that the freedom of religion laws were temporary at best, and yet… I’m 25, and still have the freedom to worship or not worship as I please.

And I am so, SO grateful, in a way I never was when I was a christian. It’s funny how I am more thankful for freedom of religion now that I have no religion. And now we risk going on a long tangent if I don’t return to the present task.

Well, the 3 wisemen (does it say in Daniel that there were 3 of them? I was under the impression there were a lot more than that. There were only 3 in the Christmas story.) catch Daniel

Daniel tries to make conversation on his way to the lion’s den: So, you guys are wise, huh? have you guys always been wise, or did you go to school for that?

As a wise man, this would probably have irritated me. As a kid I probably thought it was funny, but as an adult I would probably punch someone for that comment.

Larry(continuing): were you guys serious about that cheeseball thing? Hey I can see my house from here

I seriously doubt that, Daniel.

Wiseman 1: Daniel, because you have violated section bla bla bla of code bla bla bla of Babylon, you are hereby sentenced to be consumed by the lions. Goodbye.

 

        So we see that, years before the Esther episode came out, VeggieTales did not shy away from execution.  The writers do not go into grisly detail, they simply state what will happen to Daniel. And at no time do they ever show anyone getting eaten by the lion. Unless I’m unaware of it, children did not have nightmares over this. I’m going to go ahead and use this to prove that children are capable of much more than the writers of Esther give them credit for. They’re capable of understanding execution, and they do not need the grisly details, or any details, really, to understand what that means. And if they are given less details, they are not traumatized by it. In fact, they are more likely to be traumatized by the alternative. Also, the target audience of this movie is Christian Children. I feel like it can not be stated enough that Children growing up in Christian homes and culture will already know that certain characters are being threatened with death and or will die. These children read the bible, the bible contains horrible things, and you want to tell me that certain things, if shown on tv, will scare kids too much, yet you let them read the bible unsupervised? I’m not buying it.

There’s a joke by the wise men that Daniel is going to have a fun time, and they’re not “lyon” about it, ahahahahaaha.  As an adult, I roll my eyes. I have no idea how children feel because I only remember watching this movie once,  yet the songs I listened to a jillion times.

The wise men talk more about how the lions are totally gonna eat Daniel. I wonder if this ever scared any children? Probably not too badly, if it did. After all,  most Christian children are very familiar with the bible story. Even I was not scared by this episode.

Spoiler alert: at least we do not have to watch the lions eat the wise men later, or even start to eat them.

We see the Scallions through the reddish oppening of the hole in the lion’s den, which gives the scene an extra scary look. Then they roll a stone over the entrance, putting Larry/Daniel in total darkness.

Larry/Daniel: Oh it’s not so scary down here. A little musty, but not scary.

I wonder how total that darkness was? Have any of you been in total darkness? I have. It was in a dark room in photography class at GLAA. I had my watch, and I had to fight myself so hard NOT to turn on the indiglo because I just needed to see light. Any light. And yet, any light would have ruined our photos, so I could not. After a while, I hallucinated that there was light when there wasn’t any. Being in the dark, to some people, is scary. Especially absolute darkness where you can not see your hand in front of you and your eyes ache for just that little glimmer of light.

Then he hears lions growling.

This leads us into the next song, which I still can’t find on youtube, but it’s basically “fear not Daniel.”

Don’t cry Daniel

Fear not Daniel

Don’t you know you’re not alone?

There is one who is watching you

he listens when you pray

and though it seems this time you won’t get through

God has made a way.

 

Narrator: even though he still didn’t know what to expect, Daniel felt better when he remembered that God was taking care of him. Even in the Lion’s Den

 

 Daniel did a brave thing. Many aspire to be like him, to love Christ and openly worhsip him, despite persecution. It brings tomind people in foreign countries who suffer true persectution (by the which I mean, they are put to death, instead of privately laughed at.) Let us all take a moment to feel grateful that we live in a country that allows us freedom of religion (or lack thereof) and to ponder the true persecution people face overseas.

 

Narrator: Elsewhere in the kingdom, the wise men were congratulating themselves for being so clever. The king, however, was having second thoughts. He believed he’d lost a good friend in Daniel and that the only thing left to do was to pray to Daniel’s god would protect him

The Bible does say the King had a sleepless night, and did not partake of food or entertainment. It does not tell us why, so the narrator’s just guessing on that one.

Narrator: the next morning, everyone ran down to the lions den to see what was left of Daniel.

I love how they were just so blunt back then, about what the wisemen would have expected to happen to Daniel What happened? Why, now, in the Esther movie, did we have to have an Island of tickling? I can only shake my head and watch in horror.

The king talks about how hopeless it is; no one could survive a night with those lions.

Daniel calls out to the King, who excitedly peers into the hole. And now we come to the part my pastor disagreed with

DANIEL: oh yeah, I’ll be right up, I just have to say goodbye to my friends.

I guess there’s not a screenshot of this, but….. here’s the line the pastor had issues with

Daniel: See you guys later, thanks for the pizza!

Wise man: Pizza? They had pizza down there?

Me: godadmmit, now I’M craving pizza.

The pastor is upset that Daniel and his lion friends had a pizza party. I’m not sure why, I think he said something about it trivializing the bible story…. but honestly, even though the bible doesn’t SAY “pizza party,” it does say something like, God shut the lion’s mouths, and Daniel could pet them.  It doesn’t disagree with the spirit of the story, unlike that island of perpetual tickling. I don’t know, I think this is a very minor complaint, and hardly something to ban the show over.

I’d also wish to point out that most of the target audience will know that they didn’t really have pizza there. Except for me, I was a really dumb child. Most children know better.

King: It’s a miracle.

 

Then the king breaks into song and again I’m having issues finding it on youtube.

Surely your God is above all men

Now I understand

For even at the bottom of the lion’s den

you were in his hand

 

The king then decrees that he has a new law. Now, everyone will pray to Daniel’s God. It doesn’t spell out what will happen to people if they don’t, but it’s not hard to guess.

The wise men are now in trouble for trying to put Daniel in the lion’s den.

Wise man 1: I hear they’re looking for wise men down in Egypt. been fun, got to go now.

King Darius: where do you think you’re going! come back you scoundrels!

The scene ends with Daniel and King Darius chasing the 3 wise men.

Here is the biblical account of what really happened to the wise men

At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

I can see why the writers didn’t want to include this but don’t know if I agree. Obviously I wouldn’t want them to show the wise men (and especially not their families, shudder) getting eaten by the lions, but I don’t exactly think they need to. The narrator could just state that the wise men were thrown to the lions, just like Daniel. But it’s a minor detail, really, and I don’t mind overall because it is very possible the wise men did try to run away.

Oh, and any person out there who believes the God of the bible is loving, he killed their children. In that society, not even the wives could’ve stopped the wise men from doing what they did. Children, especially, are not responsible for what their parents choose to do.

I’ve tried not to be (too) antagonistic of Christianity in this blog, but seriously, who reads that and goes, yup, that’s the God *I* want to worship!

And then people wonder why, even when I did believe God existed, I didn’t want to worship him. Sheesh.

Anyway, back to Bob and Larry on the kitchen counter.

Bob tells Larry he did a very good job. Larry grins and tells Bob, “It was my finest hour.” And I’m not sure if he was talking about his acting skills, of it it’s a reference to the original quote Winston Churchill made when the Nazis were bombing England. Either one could fit, I guess, since, yanno, hiding out in subway tunnels while Nazis bomb you and sniveling in the lion’s den are totally the same thing.

Oh THIS is where I got the image of the computer from! Bob tells us we are all going to move over to QWERTY the computer. How original.

OH MY GOD look at how old it is!

And now, it’s time to talk about what we have learned. Bob (and I) hates this song. Larry loves it.

Bob talks about how God is bigger than anything, so we don’t have to be afraid of dying in plane crashes anything, and isn’t that nice? Bob then talks about how God protected Daniel from those big scary lions. Gee, wish he’d protected the children king Darius threw into the fuckin lion’s den! Because he’s totes ok with throwing small children to the lions because their parents are assholes, but he can’t allow Junior to be scared of Frankencelery.

Bob: Let’s see if QWERTY has a verse for us today.

Larry: Ok

Aw yea! That’s MY kind of bible!

Hey wait a second…. that doesn’t sound like a very good meat loaf…. the bread to meat ratio is way off, for one thing. Also, I hope that’s only half the recipe because that is a very bland meat loaf.

Bob chides the computer and makes it spit out a relevant bible verse: Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you.”

Ah, yes, I remember that verse. In Sabbath School class (which is exactly like Sunday School, except we have ours on Saturday so we call it “sabbath” school.) we had to memorize this verse King James style. Yes, when we were 10 or younger.

 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

 

We literally had class sessions, even at the Christian Elementary school I attended, to go over the word “strengtheneth.” Kids today have it so easy.

Bob: So the next time you get scared, just remember that verse

Me: I’m sure the kids Darius threw into the lion’s den were remembering that verse too. Actually, it would be nice, if I still believed in God, to remember that verse on the plane….

Bob: (Continuing) And why don’t you pray tonight with your mom and dad before you go to sleep to thank Jesus for always looking out for you.

Ha! Right, Imma just call up my parents and be like, yo parents, guess what, I’m headin’ to Arizona tomorrow –surprise!– and I was wondering if you’d pray with me? Yeah, I know, target audience and all. My parents would still think I was weird. Actually, that would be their second reaction, their first would be, wait, Arizona,what?!

Bob: Well, that’s all for now. And remember, God made you special, and he loves you very much.

That’s a VeggieTales catch phrase, by the way. We kids repeated it to each other often as we imitated Bob’s voice. It’s actually not a bad message for Christian kids, so I won’t snark on it too much except to say…

[Imitates Bob’s voice] God made you special, and he loves you very much [/bob’s voice].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One thought on “In Which I Watch Veggie Tales, Where is God When I’m Scared?/Daniel in the Lion’s Den

  1. I don’t believe that it was God who killed the Wisemen and his children. It was the king. God only protected Daniel. And, remember, this was a different time in a different society, where if a man committed a crime, their entire family (including the children) had to suffer. It’s an unfortunate part of history. However, great article, with a lot of nostalgia. Thanks!

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